AUTH/3407/10/20 - Ferring/Director v Pharmasure

Promotion of Meriofert/breach of undertaking

  • Received
    26 October 2020
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    19 February 2021
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

Ferring Pharmaceuticals Ltd alleged that Pharmasure Limited had breached its undertaking in that it continued to display on its UK website, promotional claims for Meriofert (menotrophin) which had been ruled in breach of the Code in Case AUTH/3227/7/19.

Meriofert was used to induce ovulation in women undergoing assisted reproduction techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Ferring marketed Menopur (menotrophin for injection) which was similarly used to induce ovulation in women undergoing fertility treatment.

The detailed response from Pharmasure is given below.

The Panel noted that in Case AUTH/3227/7/19 Ferring had complained about claims in a Meriofert detail aid but noted that similar claims were included on the Pharmasure UK website. A number of claims in the detail aid were ruled in breach of the Code and Pharmasure provided its undertaking in acceptance of those rulings.

In Case AUTH/3227/7/19, the Panel considered that claims that Meriofert produced a ‘Higher mature oocyte yield than Menopur’ and that it ‘Contains predominantly placental hCG’ were misleading and not capable of substantiation, in breach of the Code; in the context in which they appeared they gave an overall implication of clinical superiority and readers were not provided with sufficient information to properly assess the claims and form their own opinion of Meriofert vs Menopur. The claims now at issue (Case AUTH/3407/10/20) ie that Meriofert had been shown to produce more mature oocytes than Menopur and about the placental hCG content and purity of Meriofert vs Menopur appeared on the company’s website beneath an emboldened heading ‘What is the difference between Meriofert and Menopur (menotrophin)?’. These claims were slightly different to those claims previously considered but, in the Panel’s view, they continued to imply overall superiority and as acknowledged by Pharmasure, were sufficiently similar to have been covered by the company’s original undertaking to cease using such claims forthwith.

The Panel considered that by leaving claims on its website which were closely similar to claims which had been ruled in breach of the Code, Pharmasure had failed to comply with its undertaking given in Case AUTH/3227/7/19. A breach of the Code was ruled.

The Panel noted that a form of undertaking and assurance was an important document which underpinned self-regulation. It was very important for the reputation of the industry that companies complied with undertakings. The Panel considered that Pharmasure had failed to comply with its undertaking given in Case AUTH/3227/7/19 and had thus brought discredit upon, and reduced confidence in, the industry. A breach of Clause 2 was ruled.